What Are Your Favorite Old School Athletes Up To Today?
With the 21st century racing forward and athletes like Michael Phelps, Simone Biles, and Wayde van Niekerk rising in fame, it is easy to forget about times gone by and the athletes that were once talk of the town. But for those nostalgic few, we can always remember and honor our favorite old school athletes and see what they are up to these days. So let’s take a trip down the legendary athlete hall of fame of the 20th century.
Muhammad Ali – “Float like a Butterfly, Sting like a Bee”
Born Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr., Muhammad Ali became the heavyweight boxing champion of the world, and in turn, became one of the most world-renowned sport figures of the 20th century. He has been dubbed “The Greatest” because of his historic boxing matches.
In 1984, Ali was diagnosed with Parkinson’s syndrome allegedly from the head injuries he incurred during his fights. Following his diagnosis, he removed himself from the spotlight while dedicating his time to religion and social change. He remained under the care of his family until he passed away on June 3, 2016.
Wayne Gretzky – “No. 99”
A former head coach and ice hockey player, Wayne Douglas Gretzky began his career in Ontario, Canada. He is nicknamed as “the greatest hockey player ever” and “The Great One” by many players, sportswriters, as well as the National Hockey League (NHL). He has more goals and assists than any other player, making him the leading scorer in the history of NHL.
Immediately after Gretzky retired, he was inaugurated into the Hockey Hall of Fame, which means that he didn’t even have a waiting period. His jersey – number 99 – was retired by the NHL, making him the only player to obtain this honor. In October, 2016, Gretzky became vice-chairman and partner of Oilers Entertainment Group.
Michael Jordan – “His Airness”
Cool enough to go by his initials, MJ, (and no, not Michael Jackson in this case), Michael Jordan is probably the most famous basketball player. After retiring he became a businessman and owner of the Charlotte Hornets of the NBA League. It all started in 1991 when he won the first of six trophies in the NBA championship and his first Finals MVP Awards, of which he also earned six.
Jordan’s ability to perform slam dunks from the free throw line secured him a spot in the Hall of Fame, which wouldn’t be complete with him. He is the driving force behind Air Jordan Nike sneakers, which launched in 1984 and still remain popular today. Does “Space Jam” ring a bell? Today, he is the first NBA player in history to go down as a billionaire because of the rise in value of NBA franchises.
Andre Agassi – “Donnay Pro One”
Andre Agassi’s tennis skills earned him a World No. 1 status and eight Grand Slam titles. He was a formidable player from the 1990s to the mid-2000s. He has been quoted as saying: “If you don’t practice you don’t deserve to win,” and he definitely knows a thing or two about winning.
Agassi retired in 2006 after the US Open and since then he has participated in several charity tournaments, runs his own charity, and established a line of fitness equipment. He is married to Steffi Graf, a fellow tennis Hall of Famer.
Mary Lou Retton – “America’s Sweetheart”
Mary Lou Retton was the first American female to win an all-round Olympic gold medal in gymnastics when she was only 16 years old, and she would remain the only one to claim this title for 20 years. She scored a perfect 10 on the vault and took the all-around gold. She also won two silver and two bronze medals.
Retton is a passionate Christian conservative who became an ardent supporter of the Reagan Administration. Post retirement, she went on to become a spokesperson for Revco and a motivational speaker.
Tonya Harding – “Playing Dirty”
From the mid-1980s, Tonya Maxene Harding worked her way up the skating ladder, but it was in 1991 when Harding made her breakthrough. She performed her first triple axel at the U.S Championships and won the title with a 6.0 grade for technical merit, the highest ever given to a single female skater. Harding completed four triple axels in 1991 at the U.S Championships, World Championships, and the Fall 1991 Skate America Competition. After that, her competitive results started to decline.
Harding is no stranger to controversy: in 1994 she was involved in hiring Shane Stant who attacked Nancy Kerrigan, her main team opponent, so that Kerrigan would be unable to compete at the Winter Olympics in 1994. Kerrigan wasn’t badly injured and still competed in the Olympics and took the silver medal, while Harding only finished eighth. Harding received three years probation, a fine of $160,000, and 500 hour of community service. She was also stripped of her titles and banned from USFSA events for life. Harding also has a celebrity sex tape with her ex-husband and took up a short-lived boxing career in 2002.
Nancy Kerrigan – “Harding’s Worst Nightmare”
Nancy Ann Kerrigan is a former American figure skater who earned silver and bronze Olympic medals and became the champion at the 1993 U.S Nationals. Kerrigan performed in a few ice shows, such as Broadway on Ice and Champions on Ice. While the attack on Kerrigan arranged by Tonya Harding made headlines, it didn’t make much difference in Kerrigan’s career as she managed to recover and return to competing quickly.
After Kerrigan retired from competitive skating, she became a national spokeswoman for Fight for Sight and established The Nancy Kerrigan Foundation to raise awareness for the vision impaired. She also appeared in several movies and TV shoes. In 2017, Kerrigan competed on “Dancing with the Stars.” She has also penned a book, “Artistry on Ice.” In 2004, Kerrigan was inducted into the United States Hall of Fame for figure skating.
Nadia Elena Comăneci – “The Perfect 10”
Scoring a perfect 10.0 in gymnastics is no easy feat, but Nadia Comăneci did it with ease at the 1976 Olympic Games at the tender age of 14. She scored a perfect score six more times, and all in all, received nine gold Olympic medals and four World Championship medals.
Comăneci has popularized gymnastics around the globe, so it comes as no surprise that she’s the most well-known athlete of the sport and has been named as one of the top athletes of the 20th Century. She is still involved with the Olympic Games as well as a few fundraising campaigns and charities.
Mia Hamm – “A Mouthful of a Name”
Marial Margaret Hamm-Garciaparra, is a two-time Olympic gold medalist and FIFA Women’s World Cup champion. During her career, she played as a Forward and Midfielder. Hamm also founded the Women’s United Soccer Association.
Hamm established the Mia Hamm Foundation in 1999, which promotes awareness and raises funds for families that need cord blood and bone marrow transplants. She hosts an annual soccer game for celebrities in Los Angeles to support her foundation.
Bonnie Blair – “Bonnie the Blur”
At 23, Bonnie Blair set a world record for speed skating at the 1988 Winter Olympics, for which she won her first Olympic gold medal in the 500-meter event. From then on it was onward and upwards: Blair boasts the title as the first American to win gold in the same event in three consecutive Games, and she is the most decorated women in Winter Olympic history.
Blair retired in 1995 and switched her career as a professional competitive speed skater to a motivational speaker. She also founded the Bonnie Blair Charitable Fund and actively supports charities like the Alzheimer’s Association and the American Cancer Society.
Ila Borders – “Control Pitcher”
Ila Borders was the first female to launch a men’s NCAA and NAIA college baseball game. Borders played for Southern California College (1994-96 seasons) and Whittier College (1997 season). She became one of the first women to play pitcher in an integrated men’s professional baseball team.
It seems like Borders breaks gender stereotypes: after she retired, she took on the role as firefighter when worked for the Long Beach Fire Department, the Gilbert Fire Department, and then the Cornelius Fire Department in Oregon.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee – “The Asthma Slayer”
Jacqueline “Jackie” Joyner-Kersee ranks as one of the best track and field athletes in long jump and the heptathlon, boasting three gold, one silver, and two bronze Olympic medals. She’s been voted the Greatest Female Athlete of All-Time by “Sports Illustrated for Women.”
Kersee is renowned for overcoming severe asthma. Today, she is a member of the Board of Directors for USA Track & Field, and she keeps herself busy with philanthropic ventures.
Most famous basketball players seem to be men, but not when it comes to the female guard, Teresa Edwards. She is famous for winning five Olympic medals, four gold and one bronze, in women’s basketball.
“Sports Illustrated” listed Edwards at 22 for the “100 Greatest Female Athletes of the 20th Century”. In 2012, she acted as the chef de mission for the Olympic Games, and in 2014, Edwards was appointed as the assistant coach by Atlanta Dream.
Fu Mingxia – “The Philosophical Diver”
At the age of 12, Fu Mingxia won the platform-diving championship, making her the youngest diving champion of all time. She is also famous for being one of the youngest Olympic-diving champions and has earned five Olympic medals, four gold and one silver.
After she quit diving, Mingxia became a member of the Beijing Olympic bid committee for the 2008 Olympic Games. She is married to Antony Leung, former Financial Secretary of Hong Kong, with whom she has one daughter and two sons.
Ken Griffey Jr. – “The Kid”
Dubbed “The Kid” and “Junior”, George Kenneth Griffey Jr. is one of the best home run hitters in the history of baseball. The Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds saw him through most of his career, and he played for the Chicago White Sox for a short while. In 2007, he won the American League MVP.
Griffey was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2016. He released several charity wines in order to support The Ken Griffey Jr. Family Foundation that backs several causes like children’s hospitals in the U.S.
Carl Lewis – “King Lewis”
Carl Lewis is one of the greatest track and field athletes in history. It all started when he won four gold Olympic medals at the 1984 Games in Los Angeles. He would go on to win 10 Olympic medals in total, nine of which were gold. He also claimed eight gold World Championship medals.
Lewis has debuted in a few television productions and films, such as: “Perfect Strangers,” Alien Hunter,” “Speed Zone,” and “Material Girls”. He even tried his hand at politics when he filed petitions to run as Democrat for the New Jersey State Senate in 2011. Lewis is also a vegan and claims that he performed his best in 1991 because of this dietary habits, which allows him to consume more food without affecting his athletic abilities.
Grete Waitz – “Norwegian World Record Holder”
Grete Waitz’s parents didn’t take her career seriously in her teens, but she proved them wrong by winning the silver medal at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and lots of gold medals in other Championships. In order to support her career in athletics, she studied at a teachers’ college.
After retirement she worked for the CARE International charity and the International Special Olympics. Sadly, Waitz died of cancer in 2011 at the age of 57.
O.J. Simpson -“The Juice”
Orenthal James “O.J.” Simpson was just your average man who became a star NFL running back for 11 seasons, playing for the Buffalo Bills from 1969-1977 and for the San Francisco 49ers from 1978-1979. He was the first NFL player to rush 2000+ yards in a season and holds the record of 143.1 for the single season yards-per-game average. He made both the College Football and Pro Football Halls of Fame. After he retired, he launched a career in acting and football broadcasting, but what placed him in the spotlight was his arrest for the murder of his wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend Ron Goldman. After a controversial publicized trial, he was acquitted.
After all the scandal of his past, Simpson made things worse when in 2007, he was arrested for kidnapping and robbery in Las Vegas, Nevada. He was convicted in 2008 with 33 years imprisonment with a minimum of nine years without parole. On July 20, 2017, Simpson was granted parole and is eligible for release on October 1, 2017.
Bo Jackson – “Double Trouble”
Known as the Wild Boar, Vincent Edward “Bo” Jackson is a former American football and baseball player. He is one of a few athletes to be labeled an All-Star in two major sports. He is also the only athlete to make the MLB All-Star and Pro Bowl teams.
Jackson’s career took a sharp turn when he suffered a hip injury in 1991. In 2007, Nike launched a set of Nike Dunk shoes to honor him, and his jersey, number 34, is still on sale by the Oakland Raiders.
It was only at the age of 17 when Pelé played in his first World Cup and got the ball rolling in his soccer career. The Brazilian superstar is lauded one of the best players in the world, scoring 1281 goals in 1363 games.
Andy Warhol is quoted as saying: “Pelé was one of the few who contradicted my theory– instead of 15 minutes of fame, he will have 15 centuries.” He now devotes most of his time to charity and humanitarian work.
Magic Johnson and Larry Bird – “A Courtship of Rivals”
Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Larry Bird went head-to-head in college when they played in the NCAA men’s basketball national championship. The Michigan State Spartans headed by Johnson beat Bird’s Indiana State Sycamores.
Both Johnson and Bird became very well-known NBA players and remained very active in sports even after retirement. Johnson is a part-owner of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Bird acts as president for Indiana Pacer’s basketball operations.
Margaret Smith Court – “Queen of the Court”
It is very fitting that a woman with the surname Court would amass the most major titles in history and become a World No. 1. tennis player. Court’s career launched at the Australian Championships in 1960 when she won her first of seven consecutive titles. She hails as the first Australian woman to take the Grand Slam tournament abroad at the US and French Championships in 1962. In 1963, she also became the first Australian women to win Wimbledon.
In January 2003, Margaret Court Arena in the Melbourne Park, once called Show Court One, was named after the acclaimed tennis player. Today, she lives in Perth, Australia and practices as a Christian minister.
Billie Jean King – “Battle of the Sexes”
Billie Jean King hails as a World No. 1 former tennis player. She secured a total of 39 Grand Slam titles: 16 in women’s doubles, 12 in singles, and 11 in mixed doubles. Her most victorious win, however, was in “The Battle of the Sexes” exhibition match in 1973 against Bobby Riggs when she was 29 years old.
After retiring in 1983, King busied herself with social activism and the promotion of gender equality. She established “WomenSports” magazine and the Women’s Sports Foundation, which promotes youth fitness and advocates Title IX.
An American wheelchair racer, Jean Driscoll has won five gold, three silver, and four bronze medals in four Summer Paralympic Games. She was born with spina bifida and began using a wheelchair in high school where she became involved in wheelchair sports.
Driscoll now supports programs for athletes with disabilities. Recently, she traveled to Ghana where she helped train the first Paralympic athletes from that country, Raphael Nkegbe and Ajara Busanga.
Greg Louganis –”The Greatest American Diver”
Gregory Efthimios “Greg” Louganis is an American Olympic diver, author, and LGBT activist. He won four gold Olympic medals and one silver in the 1984 and 1988 Games for the springboard and platform events.
Louganis is known as “The greatest American Diver” and “probably the greatest diver in history.” In 1995, he announced his HIV/Aids status which he contracted just before the 1988 Olympics from his partner, James Babbitt.
Margo Oberg – “A Surfer’s Dream”
Margo Oberg was the first woman in the world to become professional surfer. She was victorious at the WISA Hang Ten Championships. She also competed at the Smirnoff World Pro-Am Surfing Championships in the women’s event. She continued to win many competitions into the 1980s.
Oberg opened her own surfing school called Margo Oberg Surf School in Kauai in 1977, which she still runs today. She was instated into the Surfing Walk of Fame in 1995.
Peggy Fleming – “Blades of Glory”
Known for her unusual figure skating style, Peggy Gail Fleming achieved a gold Olympic medal at the 1968 Games in Grenoble, as well as three world titles and five U.S. titles. Her gold medal at the 1968 Games was very significant for the U.S. because it was the only gold medal the U.S. Olympic team claimed in these Winter Olympic Games.
After her glory as an Olympic champion, Fleming started performing in TV shows and movies. In 2017, she starred in the movie “Blades of Glory,” playing the character of a skating judge.
Jack Nicklaus – “The Golden Bear”
Jack William Nicklaus won the NCAA gold championship in 1961, after which he won 18 major championships during his career. He is renowned as the greatest golfer to ever exist.
Nicklaus, 77, retired at the age of 55. He once said: “Professional golf is the only sport where, if you win 20% of the time, you’re the best.” He has participated in several other ventures, including autobiographical and instructional book writing, charity work, and golf course design. Nicklaus also coordinates his own tournament, the Memorial Tournament, on the PGA Tour.
Dawn Fraser – “Flippers”
Spotted at the early age of 14 by Coach Harry Gallagher, Dawn Fraser, a.k.a. Flippers, won six Commonwealth Games gold medals, eight Olympic medals, four of which were gold, and broke 39 records. She even held the 100 meters freestyle record for 15 years. Fraser proved to be a bit rambunctious at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic games: she marched in the opening ceremony without permission and wore an older swimming costume during a race because she claimed it was more comfortable than the sponsored one. She also stole an Olympic flag for which she was arrested and then released without charge, and she got the flag as a souvenir.
In 1979, a film called “Dawn” was released about Fraser’s life and career, and in 2015, she featured on the genealogy TV series, “Who Do You Think You Are?”
Hank Aaron – “Hammerin’ Hank”
It all started when he played for the Milwaukee Braves in 1954 as a rookie right fielder. In 1974, he famously broke Babe Ruth’s home run record. Today, Aaron’s record has been broken, but he continues to hold league records for career RBI and total bases.
In 1982, Aaron was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. He became a successful businessman post retirement and serves in front office roles for Atlanta Braves.
Kathy Whitworth, an American golfer, turned professional in 1958. She won six major championships and entered the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1975.
Whitworth retired from competitive golf in 2005 after competing in a Women’s Senior Gold Tour event. She is a member of several Halls of Fame, namely: Women’s Sports Foundation Hall of Fame, World Golf Hall of Fame, New Mexico Hall of Fame, and Texas Sports Hall of Fame.
Yogi Berra – “Yogi”
Lawrence Peter “Yogi” Berra” received his nickname from his friend Jack Maguire, who said he looked like a Hindu Yogi while he sat with folded arms and legs waiting to play or after losing game. He won three American League MVP Awards.
In 1971, Berra was inducted into the Hall of Fame. He became a coach and managed the Yankees and New York Mets. Berra died in his sleep from natural causes at the age of 90 in 2015.
Willie Mays – “The Say Hey Kid”
In 1954 and 1965, Willie Mays was the National League MVP. His career lasted 22 years, during which he won 12 Gold Gloves consecutively as a center fielder and made 20 All-Star teams.
Mays is recognized as one of the best all-around MLB players in the Hall of Fame and one of baseball’s four living legends. Since 1986, he ran as a special assistant to the President of the San Francisco Giants.
Joe Montana – “Joe Cool”
Dubbed “The Comeback Kid” and “Joe Cool,” Joe Montana is a former football quarterback. He played for the San Francisco 49ers in the National Football League for 16 seasons. He also played for the Kansas City Chiefs. In 1986, he was diagnosed with narrow spinal cavity; he underwent a successful operation and returned to his football career.
After retiring in 1995, Montana has led a quiet life off the field in San Francisco, California. He announced his retirement before a large crowd which was broadcast on local television.
Tenley Albright – “Figure Skater Turned Surgeon”
Tenley Albright contracted Polio when she was 11 years old, and skating is what helped her regain her muscle strength. She won her first silver Olympic medal at the 1952 Winter Games in Norway and went on to win gold at the 1956 Olympic games in Italy.
Albright retired from professional figure skating in 1956, after which she focused on completing her medical education. She graduated from Harvard in 1961 and practiced as a surgeon for 23 years.
Jim Brown – “Brown for Cleveland Browns”
James Nathaniel Brown is known as a professional American football and an actor. He played as fullback for the Cleveland Browns of the NFL. He has gone down as one of the greatest football players of all time. He broke several records when he carried the ball 2,359 times for 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns.
Brown retired in 1996 and became a Hollywood actor, appearing in over 50 movies, some of which are: “Rio Conchos,” “The Dirty Dozen, and” The Running Man.” He is also a counselor, activist, and adviser to the Cleveland Browns.
Oscar Robertson – “The Big O”
Oscar Robertson is a former National Basketball Association player. He played for the Milwaukee Bucks and the Cincinnati royals. He became a Hall of Fame point guard and is known as one of the greatest NBA players.
Robertson retired in 1974. He went on to become a businessman, broadcaster, author, and advocate for social change in Indianapolis. He also served as a basketball coach in 2004.
Jesse Owens – “The Buckeye Bullet”
James Cleveland “Jesse” Owens was a track and field athlete who won four gold Olympic medals at the 1936 Berlin Games. He specialized in the long jump and sprints.
In 1980, Owens died of lung cancer at age 66. He smoked a pack of cigarettes a day for 35 years, which resulted in his being hospitalized for a severe and drug-resistant type of lung cancer in 1979.
More in Entertainment
‘The Crow’ Remake Set For A 2019 Release
With the rise of comic book films, there’s one adaptation that has been floating around for years. Fortunately, fans will finally...Mar 19, 2018
The Most Perfectly-Cast Comic Book Characters
Whenever a casting announcement comes along for an upcoming superhero movie, fans typically have a strong opinion. But it’s one thing...Mar 19, 2018
What Happened To ‘Castle’? On-Set Bullying, Creative Shifts, And More
Police drama Castle was one of ABC’s most beloved series. Brought in as a mid-season replacement, the show was a ratings...Mar 19, 2018
These Surprising Grease Movie Facts Will Have You Saying ‘Tell Me More’
Grease is undeniably one of the most popular movies ever made in Hollywood. Although it was released in 1978, the musical...Mar 19, 2018
5 Reasons To Watch ‘Mute’ On Netflix Despite The Reviews
Mute is the latest Netflix original film written and directed by Duncan Jones. It takes place in futuristic Berlin in 2058, with...Mar 18, 2018
This Comic Writer Knows Why Marvel Movies Are Better Than DC Ones–And It’s Not What You Think
A few years back, DC announced their plans for a cinematic universe to rival their competitors at Marvel. Fans couldn’t be...Mar 18, 2018
5 Facts About Zazie Beetz, Deadpool 2’s Domino
Deadpool 2 is finally going to usher in the big screen debut of Cable, portrayed by tough-guy Josh Brolin. Marvel comics...Mar 18, 2018
These Photos Of Zac Efron As Ted Bundy Will Send Chills Down Your Spine
From perfectly-coiffed hair to washboard abs and baby-blue peepers, it’s obvious why Zac Efron gets cast as the hunky heartthrob in...Mar 17, 2018
Jennifer Lawrence Sparks Feminist Row Over Photoshoot
Jennifer Lawrence managed to spark criticism with her choice of outfit for a recent promotional photo shoot in London for her new...Mar 17, 2018